Don’t Let Anyone Slog Through School

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An op-ed piece written by a recent college graduate who is working as a nanny caught my eye. Go to link to read “An over-educated nanny’s lament” by Emily Koss,0,7464135.story#axzz2xkGcsU1O Some of the comments at the end of her article are interesting to read.

I read and then re-read the essay because, frankly, it troubled me. While Emily Koss thinks she is writing about the shortage of jobs for college graduates, I think her essay points to other serious matters.

When she says, “I slogged through 18 years of school” I felt such anguish for her. What happened during those years to make them feel like a “slog?” Koss says she loved her job at Trader Joe’s and she hated school, and that led to “many arguments with my parents about why I needed to do my homework.” Could homework have been part of the problem? She ends her essay by saying that the 6-year-old she nannies was complaining about having to do her homework and she told the child, “You must study hard, so you can grow up to be a nanny.”

Homework for a 6-year-old!

Applewood Schoolhouse
Applewood Schoolhouse

This is what I feel like telling Emily Koss:

Don’t repeat the same words/mistakes that were done to you. Read Alfie Kohn’s The Homework Myth so that you, as a social sciences graduate, can be more knowledgeable and pro-active about the crime against learning that was done to you and is now being done to this child. Homework is not appropriate for such a young child. Inappropriate quantities of homework at any age can do more harm than good.

Don’t believe everything that’s said about this generation being so different from other generations in terms of job acquisition. I graduated in 1980 and found a job right away but figured out within six months that “this career job” was not meant to be “my career job.” I ended up working in a variety of “day jobs” so that I could keep acquiring new skills and knowledge during night and weekend classes. It took me five years to figure out what my next “career” step should be and the various jobs helped me figure it out. The smartest thing I did during that time was keep my living expenses as low as possible.

Mostly, I wish you could have come to our house during your middle school years, so that you could have attended our tiny one-room (garden shed) schoolhouse in the backyard. We homeschooled our daughter for two years (7th and 8th grade) and guess what happened? She LOVES school.

And, I think before you take another step on this life adventure, you must get to the bottom of what happened to you in school. Then please write another essay, because I want to know.

This is what I feel like telling parents:

Don’t stand by and watch your children slog through school. Start speaking up about inappropriate quantities of homework.

Try reading the books your child brings home from school. Are they textbooks? Do they engage you? If not, they will probably not engage your child.

Find time to explore other learning opportunities with your child — both to demonstrate your interest in learning and to show her/him that learning doesn’t have to happen in a desk and chair in a classroom.

Show your child that you are still interested in learning as an adult by reading, taking a class, going to a museum.

Share with your child your favorite “learning” experiences and ask them when they have learned something they enjoy.

Listen to your child. Really listen to your child.

Do whatever you can to stop the slog.


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